Defiant Santa bus driver triumphs over TransLink

Transit managers abandon attempt to force him to wear normal uniform

Kirk Rockwell dressed up as Santa for 16 years and didn't back down this week when Coast Mountain Bus Co. told him to stop.

Kirk Rockwell dressed up as Santa for 16 years and didn't back down this week when Coast Mountain Bus Co. told him to stop.

A TransLink bus driver who kept wearing his Santa Claus outfit in defiance of a management order now has the okay to keep driving his east Vancouver bus as St. Nick after an outcry of public support.

Kirk Rockwell had been ordered by Coast Mountain Bus Co. to stick to his normal uniform – with no more than a Santa hat or festive tie added – but management relented Thursday.

Unifor 111, the union representing bus drivers, had been deluged with calls, emails and social media in support of Rockwell, president Nathan Woods said.

Other drivers were poised to don Santa suits in solidarity with Rockwell if he was disciplined, he added.

“I’m appreciative of their reconsideration,” Woods said.

“I think primarily the lesson is you talk to the people first and get an idea if there’s a way to resolve it to everyone’s satisfaction before carte blanche making a decision without understanding what the backlash will be.”

Rockwell had driven the bus as Santa in the holiday season for 16 years and Woods said other drivers swap their regular uniforms for various costumes – although not masks – at Halloween.

He rejected the argument a bus driver wearing a different uniform poses a security concern.

“The issue of identify theft has never really been a concern,” Woods said, “I can go to Value Village and get a transit operator uniform right now.”

Surrey North Delta Leader

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